27 Jun 2023
Being an expatriate is a challenging yet rewarding experience. It's an opportunity to broaden your horizons, experience different cultures, and gain valuable life skills. However, along with the thrill of novelty comes a set of challenges, particularly related to mental health. One such challenge that many expats, including overseas Pakistanis, encounter is dealing with homesickness and culture shock. Over 9 million Pakistanis live abroad, most of whom earn there and send money to Pakistan to support their households back home. Such life can be complex, tiresome, and hectic, leading to mental strain caused by homesickness alongside several other factors.
In this blog post, we'll explore some common challenges faced by overseas Pakistanis and provide practical tips on how to deal with homesickness and culture shock.
Homesickness is a universal phenomenon experienced by individuals away from their home environment. It's a profound longing for familiarity and comfort, intensified by the absence of loved ones, familiar food, and known cultural practices. It's a common experience for people who have moved to a new country, especially if they're far away from their family and friends.
Homesickness can manifest in various ways, including feelings of sadness, isolation, and sometimes even anxiety. Other symptoms might include a lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, and a persistent sense of nostalgia.
Culture shock is a sense of disorientation that occurs when you're suddenly exposed to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes. It's common among expats and can compound feelings of homesickness.
Culture shock generally happens in stages, starting from the 'honeymoon' phase, where everything seems fascinating, followed by the 'frustration' phase, where differences become overwhelming. Eventually, you reach the 'adjustment' phase, where you start to become more comfortable in the new culture.
If you’ve started experiencing culture shock and homesickness, your physical and mental health can seriously get impacted, leading to a troubled life. In this way, you won’t be able to ensure flawless work and desirable earnings to support your family with a money transfer to Pakistan whenever they need help.
Keeping an open mind and positive attitude helps to embrace the new environment. Immerse yourself in the new culture, learn the local language, try the cuisine, and participate in cultural activities.
Regular communication with family and friends back home can alleviate feelings of homesickness. Also, keeping traditions alive, such as celebrating cultural events, can create a sense of familiarity in the foreign environment.
If homesickness becomes overwhelming, it's essential to seek professional help. Counsellors and therapists can provide techniques to manage these feelings and facilitate adjustment to the new environment.
Celebrate your culture by cooking traditional meals, listening to music from your home country, or watching Pakistani movies. This will help you feel connected to your roots.
Join a local Pakistani community group or attend cultural events. This will help you make new friends who share your background and interests.
Exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress. Join a gym or go for a walk in a local park.
You may think that homesickness may be too much for you to handle, but thinking about the positive changes you had during your living overseas may change your mindset as well.
Cultural intelligence is the ability to adapt to and navigate through unfamiliar cultural settings. It involves understanding, respecting, and appreciating cultural differences. Reading about the local culture, attending cultural events, and interacting with locals can help develop this intelligence. When you interact with natives and other overseas Pakistanis, you’ll learn to ease your life for a smooth expat experience. You might also learn why several Pakistani abroad prefer to send money to Pakistan online and the benefit of such methods can add to your convenience and financial stability.
Creating a robust support network can be crucial for managing culture shock. This could include fellow expats, locals who are open to cross-cultural friendships, or support groups for overseas Pakistanis.
Just like homesickness, if culture shock symptoms persist and become overwhelming, seeking professional help is recommended. Mental health professionals can provide valuable tools and coping strategies.
Take the time to learn about the customs, traditions, and beliefs of your new home country. This will help you understand the culture and avoid misunderstandings. Still not sure where to start? Learn about “culture shock” through ACE's blogs and get tips to overcome this.
Keep an open mind and try new things. Be willing to embrace the differences between your home country and your new country.
Talk to other overseas Pakistanis who have been in your shoes. They may have some valuable insights and advice to share.
Make sure you're taking care of your physical and mental health. Eat well, get enough sleep, and make time for relaxation and self-care.
It's essential to set realistic expectations when moving to a new country. It takes time to adjust to a new culture, and you may face challenges along the way. Let yourself have time to adjust and be gentle with yourself.
Building a support system in your new country is critical for your mental health. Joining social groups or communities can help you find like-minded people and create a sense of belonging.
Creating a routine can provide a sense of structure and stability in your life. This can help you adjust to your new environment and feel more comfortable in your new country.
Maintaining a positive attitude can be challenging when you're dealing with homesickness or culture shock. However, focusing on the positive aspects of your new life can help you stay motivated and optimistic.
Dealing with homesickness and culture shock is challenging but not insurmountable. By taking proactive steps such as embracing the new culture, maintaining ties with home, developing cultural intelligence, and building a support network, overseas Pakistanis can not only cope with these feelings but thrive in their new environment. Remember, seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness; it's a step towards resilience and a better expat experience. Ensuring tips and guidelines shared in this article can help you live a smooth, peaceful, and successful expat life. In this way, with improved mental and physical health, you can earn better to ensure financial support back home. And, what better way could be than making an online money transfer to Pakistan via ACE’s solutions that give you several benefits?
Is it normal to feel homesick and experience culture shock as an expat?
Absolutely. Homesickness and culture shock are normal responses to living in a foreign environment. It's a significant change, and it's natural to miss home and feel overwhelmed by the new culture.
What can I do if I feel isolated in my new environment?
Try to make connections with people around you. Join local clubs or groups, attend social events or volunteer in community activities. Also, reach out to support networks of fellow expats, if available.
How long does it take to adjust to a new culture?
The adjustment period varies for each person and can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. It's a gradual process and requires patience and perseverance.
Should I suppress my feelings of homesickness?
No, suppressing feelings can lead to increased stress and anxiety. Acknowledge your feelings and try to understand them. Speak with someone about how you're feeling, whether it's a trusted friend, family member, or a professional counsellor.